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Luca wasn't sure what was going on, but Lady had seen them too, and recognized the figure that turned with the man to start walking away. Even though she grimaced a little at the thought of having to meet and talk with a pokemon that had beaten her so easily, my ninetales ran right beside me as we caught up to the pair.

When we slowed to a walk right behind the stranger and his Lucario he gave us a small smile. He casually focused on Luca and I, of whom Luca was being shy towards him and half burying her face in my shirt and arms as she hugged to me.

"You two seem to have bonded nicely." He began as he looked down at Luca with a smile. "Can he hear you yet?" He continued kindly.

"Y-yes..." She managed through my sleeve which got a small smile from Lucario walking on the stranger's other side. When Luca focused on him though, her ears perked as if she recognized him.  She couldn't keep from staring at the Lucario as he and his trainer exchanged glances, smiled and switched places as we walked.  When he got closer and she got a better look at him Luca smiled wider, realizing this was the Lucario from before and struggling to leap out of my arms at him. She easily wriggled free, much to my own terror as I was afraid she would fall. The Lucario was surprised as well to see Luca leap at him but he happily caught her. She smiled and hugged his shoulder where she'd been caught, and I thought I heard her say something but I couldn't tell.  He gave a soft chuckle as he held her and nuzzled her softly, but soon exchanged a look with his companion. The man nodded softly and looked to Lady to ask if she'd like to play. With a bark Lady agreed and the three of them ran off a little further ahead.  Still confused as to what had just happened, I was left on a leisurely walk with the strange man who'd added a bit of spice to my travels in the past month and a half..

"Umm… So how is it she can talk?" I asked first, hoping to spark some conversation. Thankfully, it worked.

"All Lucario and Riolu have latent talents like Luca. Most around here however have to work harder to develop them. Luca is from a gifted group, but it is because of the bond she shares with you that her abilities surfaced so early." He replied at first, though unfortunately, he wasn't quite as forthcoming with any further information. When I asked why her "group" was special, what her other abilities might be, where he and his Lucario had come from, or even who they were, his only reply was a smile and "In time we'll explain…"

A little frustrated with not being able to get him to talk I looked ahead at our pokemon. As I watched for just a moment I noticed Lucario seemed to be enjoying himself the most. He was very careful with Luca and just seeing her smile brought one from him. He also wasn't the same rigid and disciplined figure from just moments before. He had loosened up a lot and was genuinely enjoying himself.

"Is he related to Luca?" I asked as the thought popped in my head.

"Yes. He's her father actually." He replied with a small smile as he looked ahead as well.

"Why would you leave her with me then!?" I asked in shock, but he wouldn't give me a clear answer for that either... All I got in reply was a short "She needs you." and he wouldn't elaborate.

I still couldn't believe how separating Luca from her parents was good for her, but decided it was best not to push the issue. After all it must have been hard enough for him to give her up, and only visit occasionally. I wondered if she still had a mother as well... though the answers there saddened me either way.

"Is she the only one you've given away?" I asked next, and much to my surprise I got an answer.

"We've found homes for a few others. Lets see… in my past 3 years I'd say we've found partners for 5 other Riolu. Have you heard of a man named Sir Aaron?" He asked, to which I nodded my head. "His Lucario was one of Luca's group." He gave as an example, though… it wasn't possible for him to have given Sir Aaron his lucario… was it?  This admission though did make me think of just what Luca might be capable of.  Sir Aaron was an amazingly gifted individual and some had actually thought it was because of his Lucario partner.

"Are all the Riolu related? Like brothers and sisters or cousins?" I found myself asking next, wondering just how close in relation to Sir Aaron's Lucario Luca might be, and knowing I would never get an answer as to how he gave the two Riolu to me and Sir Aaron...

"Some are, but mostly they might be distantly related at best. They all have their own families, but they share the same innate talents, though their prowess varies greatly between individuals." He replied and we continued to talk for another hour about little things. Eventually a silence was broken by him looking at me with a serious gaze and telling me Luca was indeed special and needed me to be there and protect her no matter what happened.  It was a confusing request, and a little disconcerting, but I made sure he knew I would never betray the trust he and Luca's father put in me and that I would never, ever let Luca go. The stranger nodded at me with a small confident grin before looked up at our three pokemon in front of us.

They had stopped at a fork in the road, and Luca was riding on top of the Lucario's head like she did with me.  "We should be going." The stranger said as we stopped with the others. With that the Lucario reached up and lifted Luca off his shoulders and gave her a hug, though was careful of his chest spike.  Luca murred softly as she hugged him back, but whined softly when he stepped over to me to hand her back.

I took Luca gingerly though I could see she was torn between us. The Lucario smiled softly and pet her before giving her a soft kiss on the nose. "Ok... Love you too!" She said to him softly with a sniffle and we waved goodbye as he smiled and they went down a path to the right. My heart ached as I heard Luca and watched the pair leave. I'd grown attached to the little Riolu and I didn't want to loose her but... I felt horrible for keeping her, my self doubting mind thinking she'd be better off with her dad. I knew from my conversation though that despite his reluctance to leave the Lucario wanted her to be with me, for better or worse. So I tried to show him that she had a good home and that he had no need to worry, but there was only so much I could do to console him, and the best I could really do was to resolve myself to proving I would take care of her through time.

When the pair was out of sight I looked down to the girls and we headed down the left path towards home. Even though Luca was still sad after parting ways with the stranger and her father, Lady and I were quickly able to cheer her up by telling her about my own family. But it hardly did much to console my own guilt...




My home town was only another mile away, but it was too far for Luca to stay awake even though the sun was just setting. She fell asleep peacefully in my arms just like the day we had found her. When we came to my house Lady beat me to the door, but was nice enough to hold it open for me with her tails. Mom was in the kitchen starting dinner when we walked through the door. She gave Lady a nice welcome and a treat of scrap hamburger since she was first in line, then came over to give me a hug. She quickly realized however that I was holding a small, sleeping pokemon. Her eyes widened as she looked then met my gaze to ask in a whisper where I had found this one.

"I'll tell you in a bit, let me lay her down first." I replied in the same soft tone and went to the living room to lay Luca down on the couch. Mom followed and smiled as she probably never guessed I could be such a caring "father." Lady joined Luca on the couch once I set her down where the ninetales covered little Luca with her warm tails. With my girls comfortable I went back out to the dining room with mom.

We sat there talking for what must have been hours. I started by complimenting the new couch and apologizing for now covering it with fur...  Mom quickly dismissed it though, wanting to know about the sleeping pup. So I continued, beginning with how Luca had been given to me and continued until I had explained about our recent meeting with the stranger and Luca's father. Mother was at a loss for words after the story, and I wondered if she even really believed me or just thought I had made it up and was debating how to get me to crack my poker face.

She was particularly skeptical when I told her I could understand Luca. She kept looking at me funny like I was pulling her leg and asked me how it was possible, but all I could say was "I don't know exactly."

When we finished our catching up, which included mom telling me all about what my sister and father had been up to, she asked if she could see Luca again. Of course I didn't mind, so we went back to the living room to find Lady had fallen asleep as well. I gently parted the fluffy mound of tails to show mom my little Riolu. She knelt beside the couch and looked her over with a gentle, admiring stroke across the sleeping pup before she spoke.

"She's beautiful!" She said quietly as she gently ran her hand across Luca's head and behind an ear.  The little pokemon didn't even twitch as she remained sound asleep and I had to admit even I was struck by how cute she was at that moment.

It was pretty late by the time mom had finished admiring Luca, so she and I decided to get some well deserved rest as well.  Not wanting to disturb the girls and knowing they were fine where they were I went upstairs to my bed and promptly fell asleep on that most wonderful of things… a well made mattress. In the middle of the night though I was awoken by something climbing into my bed. The movement roused me but a voice accompanied it. "Feli…? Can I sleep with you?" Luca asked in a whimpering and scared tone.

"Sure Luca. What's wrong?" I asked tiredly but caringly as I shifted to allow her in under my one blanket, though I blushed softly in embarrassed. Since we were home I had elected to sleep in just my underwear, which was a little less than I normally did with her…

"Someone was down there…" She whimpered as she crawled in closer and nuzzled against me. I knew it had to be my father. He worked nights during the weeks and got home late. More than likely he had just come home and accidentally woken Luca up. He could be quite intimidating if one didn't know him, not to mention the lumbering figure moving in the dark.

"Mm… It's ok Luca, it must be my dad. He comes home late." I said to her as I put the covers back down and put an arm around her soothingly. She had no further protests as she simply replied with a soft "Ok" and shut her eyes.

Lady soon followed, leaping up on the foot of the bed and curling up just out of reach of my feet, just in case I should move in the night.  After that I quickly fell back to sleep, smiling happily at the sensation of Luca cuddling to me tightly and her silken fur brushing my bare chest.

The next morning I woke up once again to Luca's happy urging. "Wake up Feli! Come on! Let's go!" But this time something else soon followed... My ear was suddenly filled with... drool?

Lady had decided to show Luca how she woke me up. It was quite effective and Luca laughed as I quickly groaned my disapproval and sat up with a start to wipe the slobber from my ear. Lady only sat there grinning her sly smirk; she knew I couldn't stay mad at her no matter how much she teased me. I gave her a mockingly scolding look but couldn't stop that hint of a smile from creeping in as I got up to fetch some clean clothes. Luca watched for a moment, wondering idly why I slept in different clothes that night but decided it didn't matter and quickly got off the bed to run to the top of the stairs.

Luca was sniffing excitedly at the air as she waited, and I chuckled as the cent of bacon had filled the house but taken longer to filter upstairs. When Lady and I caught up I quickly picked her up to carry her downstairs. When we got to the kitchen we found Mom already had breakfast started, she put Lady's food down for her and had a place set for me, her, and Luca. Luca felt a little left out that mom hadn't prepared something for her, but she had only recently switched to solid food and lucky for her I knew what she liked.

So I took my time and fixed Luca a small bacon sandwich with some berries on the side and soon enough we were all eating together at the table. Luca ended up picking the bacon out of the bread and eating the soft oran berries, but she enjoyed it none the less. When we finished, mom wanted to get to know Luca a bit more. Luca was still a bit shy, and without food to distract her she was suddenly aware of mother's attention. But mother had such a strange personality that she could get most people to like her almost right away. In no time at all Luca was almost as comfortable with my mother as she was with me.

To start, mom had decided to see if I really could understand Luca. She whispered something in Luca's ear with a grin. Luca looked up me to repeat the question, asking if I still remembered where the shower was. Poor Luca didn't know what it meant, or why I scowled at her and mom as I replied "Very funny..."

Despite her astonishment, my mother laughed, at least getting Luca to look between us with confusion rather than a worried fearful look. Soon enough though mom was happily getting to know Luca a little bit with me translating her answers for her.

After cleaning up breakfast I had an idea for the day's activities. Lady had finished with us and while I was helping mom clean the fox had taken Luca into the living room to play. I smiled when I saw them but left them alone for the time being while I set up some equipment.

I thought since Luca was getting stronger and a bit more independent that today would be a nice day to see what attacks Luca might know. So I went to the garage and got out the old training equipment I had once used for Lady, mainly just basic targets for focus, but I grabbed some of the remaining disks to give my old friend some exercise too.

Lady realized what I was doing and after giving me enough time to get everything organized she brought Luca out to see. When they came outside Luca looked around at the scenery admiringly before she saw me with the strange equipment. She quickly leapt off of Lady to run over and ask what I was doing. She was getting quite agile since she'd been left with us.

"What are these for?!" Luca asked eagerly, looking to the targets and stack of disks as her tail wagged.

"It's practice equipment, for battling." I said as I knelt down when she reached me.

"You mean what those other people were doing?" She asked, having not seen Lady and I in a battle yet, but noticing a few pokemon fighting in the cities we'd gone through.

"Mhmm. Lady knows how to battle." I replied gently, trying to encourage her, but of course she asked why we battled. It never was the easiest question for kindhearted trainers to answer, but thankfully Lady was able to fill in a little bit when I started loosing my words. After our little talk Luca cheerfully said she wanted to try. I smiled at her and said, "Ok." As I began trying to think of an attack she might know. She wasn't aware that she knew any, so I thought it would be better if Lady could demonstrate something first.

I thought of a basic attack and stood as I told Luca to watch Lady. I picked up a disk and threw it out into the field while telling Lady to use quick attack. She braced herself quickly then rocketed off towards the disk. Luca watched with amazement as Lady took off with a streak of white, leapt ten feet in the air, and snatched the disk out of the sky. She landed on all fours and happily pranced back to us to hand me the disk. She took a seat on the other side of Luca and smiled down at the admiring look the Riolu wore. I set the disk down on the pile and asked Luca if she thought she could do what Lady had. She thought about it for a moment as she looked out at a foam target I had set up for her. "Yes!" She finally answered with a confident nod.

I smiled and knelt to tell her which target to aim at and how she should hit it. She nodded and took a few steps forward. She didn't even wait for a command before she was off in her attempt. She actually managed to perform the attack, but it faded about 5 ft before the target, leaving her running without the aid of her abilities as she punched the target. She looked disappointed as she walked back to us, but I kindly told her she did very well for her first try. She had left a little dent in the target despite not having any energy behind the hit. I told her she did very good for her first try and I wasn't lying. Lady had taken a couple tries even to get that far. Hearing my praise she cheered up a bit, and Lady chimed in with a little bit of advice. Luca listened intently to the ninetales and when she finished the riolu proclaimed she could do it this time.

Of course I replied "Ok" and this time managed to get in a command before she bolted. She took off at nearly twice the speed as before and absolutely shattered the target with a punch right in the center where she'd hit it before. After skidding to a halt on the grass and looking back to find the target utterly destroyed she ran back to us with a broad smile on her face. I smiled as well and caught her as she leapt at me.

"How was that!?" She asked as she looked up at me.

"Great! You got that faster than Lady did." I replied as I rubbed her head a little roughly.  When I stopped she looked over at Lady who rolled her eyes with a fake growl. Luca giggled but she quickly turned back to me to ask what was next.

"Well… I'm not sure." I answered as I set her down and tried to think. I really had no idea what attacks young pokemon knew, and Luca was no exception. Although, she had steel plates on her wrists, so maybe she could use a low level steel type attack I'd heard of. I knew this would be harder since Lady couldn't show Luca how to do it, but figured it was worth a try.

Luca had waited patiently as I thought, and when I came out of my little daze I tried to explain the move Bullet Punch as best I could. Once more Lady added a little bit, something about energy from what Luca repeated. I suppose in this case at least I was lucky to have such a knowledgeable partner...  

Lady had Luca practice a technique before she tried the attack, and amazingly, Luca managed to make her paw glow white. It surprised even her as she looked at it and yelped softly. With her concentration broken, the energy faded and her paw returned to normal. After a moment of inspecting her paw she smiled proudly with the little success and looked up at me eagerly.

"At the target?" She asked after her talk and I nodded.

"Whenever you're ready." I said and a moment later she took off running towards another target. Though it wasn't quite as fast as quick attack Luca was still moving at a pretty good clip. It was partially due to the attack itself but she was a quick little pup.  About half way to the target she brought her paw back and clenched it into a fist. Once more it started to glow bright white but when she got to the target and let fly her aim was a little bit off. She hit the target just a ring outside and to the lower left of the bulls eye and blew apart a third of the target including the center. She knew she didn't hit the center but she was still happy she got it on her first try.

I couldn't have been more proud, she was really getting the hang of this and with a few practice battles she'd be a great fighter in no time. She came back to my side and I congratulated her and told her how good of a job she did. She did look tired though and I told her it was ok if she wanted to stop.

"Noo." She protested and looked back to the last whole target in the field. "One more?" She asked hopefully. I smiled and nodded softly, getting a wag of the tail as she braced herself and thought hard about what she'd felt before. When I finally gave the command she ran, once again at nearly twice the speed of her first try and just as fast as her quick attack. I heard her growl as she clenched her paw and bark as she thrust it forward! I couldn't help but think how adorable she was even trying to be fierce...

Her aim was true this time and the cheap foam target was absolutely obliterated by the hit. With a dull thud the foam showered Luca and the lawn as she stumbled to a stop and regained her balance. Looking around at the fake snow she yipped happily when she realized what happened and turned to run gleefully back to us once more. I smiled as before and knelt to meet her with a soft pet.

"Very good!" I encouraged as she panted softly and yawned. She really looked tired now. I still smiling at my cute pup I picked her up and carried her over to a nice soft patch of grass under a tree. Her beautiful red eyes met mine, not wanting to stop and not wanting Lady or I to continue without her but too tired to protest. "It's ok cutie. You just take a rest, we'll be right here." I promised her as I rubbed gently between her ears. She smiled softly at me, almost seeming embarrassed as she watched me stand and rejoin Lady near the stack of Frisbee disks.

Despite her fatigue Luca continued to watch as I put Lady through her normal warm up and training pattern. Not to be out done in by her adoptive daughter Lady managed to surprise me with her progress as well.

After some toss and fetch exercises, as well as some catch me if you can… we started using the last of my training disks for target practice for Lady's special attacks. Finally, with both of us fairly worn out I told Lady to use a flamethrower with all the power she had left.

She began charging the attack as I hurled the disk as hard and high as I could. Waiting for the perfect moment Lady growled as her muzzle sizzled and smoked until the disk hit the top of its arch. Her eyes flared with fury in her effort and she hunched and fired her gathered energy. I stared in awe and appreciation as a blue gout of flame erupted from her maw. Six inches from her nose it fanned as it turned orange, and in another ten feet a massive X blasted through the air at the falling disk.  In another instant the fire blast attack overcame and obliterated its target.

Stunned I stood there with my jaw slackened. She had managed to learn Fire Blast all on her own somehow! As the X disappeared my eyes lowered to the fox as she stepped gracefully towards me. She knew the look I wore and smiled proudly.

"That was amazing!" I said as I scratched her affectionately behind her ears. She murred softly at the attention but it seemed she didn't want to rub her superiority over me in any further. Still I smiled, even knowing that smug look of pride. Our training finished for the day the two of us went over to collect Luca and head inside. Our little Riolu was curled up with her head in her paws sleeping soundly. She had tried to stay away and watch but had fallen over in the soft bed of grass not three drills into our routine. I smiled as Lady went close and gingerly snaked her tails around the pup, lifting her to carry her in. Though Luca stirred and nuzzled against the warmth of fur replacing the chill of grass she didn't wake.

I remained to finish cleaning up and discarding the spent targets, and when I finally came inside mom was feeding Lady and was in the process of getting dinner ready for the family. Dad would be home for dinner today and my sister would be returning from a long contest trip. Lady finished her portion quickly and Luca would have to wait until the rest of us ate to get something better than normal pokechow. So in the meantime I decided to take them down for a shower.

Once again I elected to wear my swim wear until I was alone to wash. Both Lady and Luca had gotten quite dirty through our training and I spent the better part of an hour brushing the foam and dirt from their soft fur before we even got into the water. It was well worth the effort to me though. The two of them were always so happy to have their fur silken and clean, and Luca enjoyed the foaming berry scented shampoo I'd gotten for her.

After managing to lather and rinse the two canines thoroughly, and fighting a wriggling laughing riolu in doing so…, I let them go so I could finish. Lady was already steaming as she walked around the shower curtain, but thankfully she had figured out a way to help Luca dry too. After the pup shook most of the water from her fur she climbed onto the warm fox where she was wrapped in a blanket of heated tails. After a few minutes in the fluffy warmth she was 90% dry and ready to have more fun.

I smiled as I watched them go and shut the door to the bathroom. Removing my trunks I started to wash quickly myself, knowing the hot water wouldn't last too much longer. I began with my shoulder length brown hair. Since I was out traveling I had let it grow out and it settled into a casual length just above my shoulders. A trim now and again kept it neat and pulling it back into a ponytail kept it out of the way when needed.  

After that was done I reached for the soap shelf to find the body wash I kept at home. Not having to worry about what I was putting into the water was a luxury of the visits. Finding my bottle I squirted some into a wash loofa sponge and hurried to lather my thin form. I wasn't the most athletic person you'd find but the constant travel did have its benefits. I weight approximately 155 lbs and at 5'11" I was happy with that. The constant work outs making camp also helped to keep me skinny as well.

I managed to finish just as the water turned freezing. With a human yelp of my own I quickly shut it off and stepped out to dry off. I toweled off and combed my hair, ending by wrapping the towel around my waist.

After the hot shower it was chilling to open the door to the bathroom. Goosebumps prickled across my skin as I walked out, only to have a small blue fuzz ball attack my leg! I gasped in terror at first but immediately blushed as I my mind made sense of the sensations. Luca had let Lady go upstairs to the strange new voices while she waited for me. I should have known she would do this; it wasn't the first time. But usually I wasn't two floors away from my clothes...

I heard Luca moan softly as she sniffed at my leg. It seemed she liked the scent of the body wash I kept at home. Her tail wagged softly as she took another deep breath. As she did I took the chance to kneel and pet her. Mainly to keep her from looking up my towel skirt. At my touch she smiled up at me.

"You smell pretty!" She said sweetly, though it was less of a compliment to a male… Still thoroughly embarrassed, both by my situation and her comment I chuckled and reached to pick her up. I hugged her to me where she nuzzled my neck, letting me bury my nose in her cool soft fur and catch her scent as well.

"Not as pretty as you." I returned playfully as I started to walk. She had a tinge of wet dog smell under her berry shampoo but I had always found I loved that scent. What I loved more though was when the shampoo wore off almost entirely. A hint of it was perfect to compliment the, in my opinion, wonderful natural aromas of my riolu and ninetales. Something about it eased my mind and body and when we curled up together at night it was wonderful to have them so close.

Carrying Luca I navigated the house to get to my room. It was my family so I wasn't worried about walking around in just a towel. So long as it stayed around my waist I was fine. My sister being the only one to see me in my upstairs scurry just rolled her eyes and shook her head with a smile. However, I didn't know whether it was the usual look I got for just wearing a towel, or if she was teasingly mocking my love of canines as she noticed Luca in my arms.

Once upstairs I set Luca down and pulled open a few drawers to gather a fresh set of clothes. Luca knew the drill and with an accusing smirk from me she giggled as she turned around and put her paws over her eyes. Still I saw her little triangular ears swivel as if trying to identify my garments by sound alone. Once I had my underwear on I told her it was ok and she happily turned back around. She looked me over once but didn't linger too long, something I was thankful for since even being watched dressing was a little unnerving for me.

"Who was that other girl?" Luca asked curiously and softly after a brief silence as I threaded my head through the hole of my shirt.

"Her name is Ashley. She's my sister." I replied and smiled as I started to walk back to the stairs.

"Oh." She replied quickly as she followed and a bit awkwardly climbed down the first few stairs, trying to keep up with me until I scooped her up and put her on my head.

"Ah no! I'll hit the ceiling!" She teased as she clung to me like a hat, making herself as low as possible on her perch and smiling down at me. I couldn't help but laugh and purposefully rose on the last step to make it seem like I'd bump her on the last angle of the stair well ceiling. She clung tighter for a moment and growled softly at me when she missed, finally getting the joke. When she realized though I had turned into the living room and several new sets of eyes were focused on her she shrunk, trying to hide behind my head now.

My sister was technically a trainer, but favored pokemon contests over battles. She was sitting in dad's favorite leather chair while dad shared the couch with my mother. Lady had curled up in the middle of the room, presumably to be the "center" of attention, which left me with an old chair near Ashley.

"Bout time!" My sister jeered as I came in, though her attention and smile were focused on Luca.

"Still not as bad as you…" I retorted with fake pride, getting mom to laugh at the accurate statement.

"So what's his name?" She asked next after shooting mom a 'Not funny.' look and as I went to the chair.  I wasn't trying to hide Luca and she couldn't really avoid the eyes on her though she looked at my sister a bit indignantly.

"HER name is Luca." I corrected as I lifted her and set her in my lap.

My sister's attitude willingly and noticeably softened as she became a little more serious and she leaned over to smile at Luca. "I'm sorry. You're very cute Luca." She said cheerfully and Luca gave her a shy smile in return, but stayed with me. She looked around at the others and noticed my dad was sitting there as stoic as ever just looking at her. Her ears went back and she shrunk a little so I gently rubbed her head.

"It's ok. He's always like that." I chuckled, getting a snicker out of mom and Ashley.

"I am not!" He joked, looking at his wife in a fake shock before he chuckled and turned back to Luca and I. "What is she?" He asked, seeming genuinely curious, something rare for him when it came to pokemon.

"She's a Riolu. They're actually very rare." I answered, still rubbing Luca's head softly as the conversation picked up. Luca still wasn't too sure about anyone except my mom but she slowly relaxed. My sister saw Luca's change since her eyes hadn't left the pup and she took the chance to get up and gently scoop her from my lap.

Luca's fear came back quickly as she was taken from me and she shivered with her tail down and ears back until Ashley sat back in dad's chair and stroked the pup's back. "I won't hurt you." She said sweetly. Luca blinked and looked sadly back at me with a whine for help but I stayed put. I knew Luca could have escaped if she wanted to, since Ashley wasn't holding her all that tight.

"It's ok." I said soothingly to her, letting her breath again as she timidly decided to let Ashley continue.

Soon enough Luca was happily enjoying Ashley's rubs and scratches. Her little blue tail waved back and forth and the two were actually conversing quite well. Ashley had quickly figured out how smart Luca was and Luca knew the general gestures for yes and no. It surprised both my sister and father though when I translated a response for Luca when Ashley slipped from the yes and no's.

And so yet another explanation conversation began with me pretty much repeating everything I had told my mother the night before. In the middle of it all my sister's Persian, Whiskers, decided to join us. Luca immediately looked to her and only got an uncaring glance back from the cat as she went and climbed onto a cat tree in the corner of the room. I took the chance to warn Luca of her though. Whiskers bordered on the edge of schizophrenic. She either liked someone or didn't, and had her occasional friendly moods where she was your best friend. The only problem with these moods was that they could change in a spit second and in the blink of an eye she'd be ripping your arm apart... The only person Whiskers was civil with at all times was Ashley, though I know it wasn't just because Ashley held her pokeball. Luca headed my warning for now, though I saw her watching the cat rather admiringly with how regal she looked, even for a rather tiny Persian.  

The four of us spent the rest of the evening catching up. Ashley had won another ribbon at her contest, it wasn't a surprise… She had won more ribbons in two years than I had beaten gyms in 4.  When it was time to get to bed though I had a hard time collecting Luca… Ashley didn't want to let her go and Luca was still innocently enjoying the attention of her new friend. My sister wanted to enter her in a contest so bad, but I wasn't about to let Luca go, despite the fact I thought she'd look lovely in a beauty contest. "Maybe when she's older. She hasn't battled yet." I said as an excuse, which was actually valid. Contests could be just as fierce as a gym battle. Especially when you get a spoiled brat on the other end of the field. Ashley groaned and gave Luca a little hug and kiss before handing her back over to me at the foot of the stairs.

"Night Ashley!" Luca yipped after her with a wave.  Ashley waved back with a smile and, not needing a translation, wished her the same.

The next day was a Saturday so everyone gladly slept in but neither my sister or I wanted to stay home too long. She had another contest and I simply wanted to keep traveling. I never knew where or what I wanted to see or do. I always wanted to challenge the league but I never wanted to force a pokemon to fight for me, hence why it was just Lady and I before Luca. I had my favorite species and I was always hopeful I'd get the chance to see and talk with a legendary pokemon, but even my favorites were rare in this area.  It didn't matter that much to me though. I loved to travel, see new places, and occasionally indulge my enjoyment of ancient ruins. In fact that's what I wanted to do when I grew tired of battling. I really wanted to be a ruin archeologist, but school was expensive and perhaps winning the league challenge would provide me the funds.

It was noon by the time me or the girls stirred. I opened my eyes to find Luca clinging to my chest with her head nuzzled against my neck. She was so cute I just couldn't disturb her. So I lay there for a while longer until she yawned and wiggled against me. The soft brush of her fur and her small wet nose made me shiver with a stifled giggle, which inevitably woke her up fully.  With a soft moan she pushed away from me with her firm warm pads and looked up. Her red eyes met mine and she returned a smile as her tail thumped happily.

"Ready to get going?" I asked gently as I brought a hand up to scratch behind her ears. She nodded but shut her eyes and stiffened at the wonderful sensation of the affection. I chuckled again and gently moved to get up, only to find a large ninetales at the foot of the bed, defiantly unmoving. "Come on Lady, time to get up." I said teasingly and wiggled a foot under the covers to get my toes under her shoulder. At first all I got was a growl of annoyance, but when I didn't relent she shifted her head to look up at me with a scolding glare. "Not gonna work… Let's go." I continued with a laugh and rubbed behind her ears and down her flank.

With a long groan she gave in and stretched her legs and tails simultaneously, expanding to cover half the bed with her fan before she rolled upright. Luca couldn't resist the temptation and climbed on her back to hug the fox's neck. Despite her usual morning grumpiness she smiled at the hug and rose to jump to the ground. Leisurely she trotted around, stretching her legs while I dressed and started to pack. With her legs limber she decided to give her tails some exercise as well and soon I heard Luca growling and laughing as she attempted to fight off the nine tickling appendages.

After about an hour of packing and getting dragged into the girl's play fight when Luca used me as a human shield… the three of us were near starving but otherwise ready to go. When we got downstairs though, we got a bit of a surprise. My parents had known My sister and I would be leaving, so they fixed us a nice big and delicious looking lunch! Luca's nose wouldn't stop twitching and Lady was even eagerly sniffing at the edge of the table. She knew occasions like this usually got her wonderful amounts of table scraps.

My sister and I stayed to eat for another hour before helping to clean up and head out. The girls were stuffed and Luca seemed as though she'd eaten herself into a food coma with all the new smells and flavors she got to sink her little nose and teeth into.

With all of her contest equipment and costumes my sister would have been hard pressed to walk to all her destinations. So she managed to hitch a ride with a friend of hers to the next city. We said our goodbyes at the end of driveway and Luca happily gave Ashley another hug. That was the last she moved until the three of us stopped a few miles down the road to make camp. Lady walked right beside me and Luca dozed in my arms as we left town in a new direction.
I'm in the process of making final edits to the story and then leaving it alone for possibly forever save for random additions. I'm going to try and update all my places with the final versions but I'm starting here since I never truly posted it all. So those of you watching here. Congrats! You get a bit of a treat of first viewings. ^^;